The HP veer has the same body-shape as the Palm Pre and Pre 2, but is smaller—the size of a credit…Read more Read more
WHY IT MATTERS
I can fit the Veer entirely inside of my mouth. While it's significant that it's the first phone produced by the corpse of Palm (now possessed by HP in every sense of the word) and a spritely revivification of the musty webOS platform, that's really the fact that matters. The Veer is tiny, compact, and ingeniously so. Which doesn't sound like much of a novelty, except that phones are now like penises: everybody's fighting to have the biggest one.
Size matters. A lot. The Veer's screen is 2.6 inches diagonally, which is a little more than half the functional real estate you get on the iPhone's 3.5-inch screen. Pinch, flick, zoom, scroll. Get used to those actions. You'll be doing them a lot. If webOS wasn't so utterly thoughtful, from the way it handles multitasking to notifications to the insta-app-launching "Just Type" feature, it'd be a hand-cramping, eye-scrunching disaster. (I would cry blood if somebody made me use an Android phone with a screen this size.) It's usable, yes—but not for everbody.
Fingernails. They're the trick to typing on the sub-Rice-Krispie sized keys that emerge once the Veer splits open. That action, btw, feels totally sturdy and amazing, unlike past Palm products. HP money at work. An on-screen keyboard, so you don't have to open the Veer every time you want to type, would be a nice addition, though. The magnetic tumor that pulls double duty for USB connections and audio out is both genius (well-designed) and annoying (proprietary ports are a world of trouble).
So small! WebOS still feels amazingly well-designed and thoughtful. The battery life is the best I've experienced on a Palm device, the first one to last all day. Did I mention it's tiny? (I realize this section looks much smaller than proceeding one, but that's what it comes down to: WebOS is super easy to use, and it's hard not to love this cleverly designed, littlest of smartphones.)
WebOS may damn well be clever, but it is damn slow too. Far slower and less responsive than it should be, at any rate, considering it's got the same guts as the much beefier G2. More often than not, plotting your course by the stars would be quicker than launching Google Maps. Sometimes the phone just goes plain catatonic while you stand by, tapping and swiping. When it awakens, it bursts into a seizure of activity from your past swipes. Oh, and where are the apps? WebOS's app catalog feels like one of those half-abandoned mega-condos left along the Williamsburg waterfront, post-recession. Also, I really hate AT&T's stupid 4G branding on it. This doesn't feel like the future of connectivity, by any stretch. Mediocre camera.